Parish Magazine Article - July 2020

Bishop Richard

I’ve lost count of the number of times politicians have told bishops to keep their noses out of politics. We are meant to be concerned about spiritual matters, but we should leave the business of government and politics to trained professionals. I’m not sure what they would have said to Jesus. He often spoke about matters to do with money and justice that would appear to be firmly in the political realm. In fact, all of the Bible writers, particularly the prophets, saw our spiritual lives as integral to our political and economic ones.

In Isaiah’s day there was a spiritual revival with very intense worship and fasting going on in the Temple. Unfortunately, it seemed to have had no effect on the way people behaved, leading him to make the pronouncement, “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free.”

Someone once said worship without justice is self-indulgence. If worship doesn’t make us more concerned about the unjust structures of society or determined to exercise better stewardship of the earth, its probably not the sort of worship the bible envisages.

To truly worship is to tune our hearts to God’s heart. If our hearts are tuned to his, they will beat to the same rhythm. God doesn’t measure people’s worth by the colour of their skin, the size of their bank balance, their educational attainment or their social status. The basis for justice is that we are all created in the image of God, and that creative diversity of colour and culture is a crucial part of the way God reveals himself to us. The basis for humility is that we have all fallen short and all alike need God’s forgiving love.

Our problem is we get so used to being beneficiaries in the dynamics of power that we can’t even see there’s a problem. Its hardly surprising that our BAME brothers and sisters call our commitment to representative leadership into question when frankly, most of our senior church leaders look like me. There is a long way to go in achieving genuine justice in our society, and we need to be part of both the conversation and by our actions the solution as well.